Epalanga's go-to for red wine? Manuel Tavares. “This wine store and delicatessen was founded in 1860," he says. "The staff offers the best tips on pairing Douro reds and Madeiras and can ship bottles home for you.”
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Drinking in the History of Port (for Free!) in Lisbon's Historic Centre
We weren't searching for free tipples in Lisbon but the universe, in all its wisdom, apparently decided to reward us for our last-minute decision to venture to the Portuguese capital.
Buried in Lisbon's historic centre, where the tiled pedestrian streets of the Baixa meet the bustling commercial squares of Rossio sits Manuel Tavares, one of the city's quiet, unassuming gems and a mecca for port enthusiasts. Founded in 1860, the shop is purportedly the city's oldest, still-operating port vendor. Seeking to merely buy a bottle before our trip home, we were instead met at the door by a young woman insisting we first try some of Portugal's finest so that we could "truly understand what we like." We assumed this meant a quick 1/2 ounce sample; we assumed wrong. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with hundreds of port varietals we were offered glass after glass of the full spectrum of Portugal's liquid history, from white to tawny to midnight. Fantastically, we were the only tourists inside a store so-favored by locals. Unlike North America where everything is kept in soulless dust-free wide-aisles, the bottles wrapping around the walls spoke to Lisbon's drink history, with labels showing 1920, 1938, 1941. I asked about the dust on the bottles. Apparently, one does not dust the bottles, as the amount of dust speaks to the authenticity and character of the liquid treasure inside. It seemed like a fantastic metaphor for the city itself. Lisbon, I love you.